Concurrent Receipt: Background and Issues for Congress

Publication Date: January 2010

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Military and defense

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


“Concurrent Receipt” refers to the simultaneous receipt of two types of monetary benefits: military retired pay and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation. Prior to 2004, existing laws and regulations dictated that a military retiree could not receive two payments from federal agencies for the same purpose. As a result, military retirees with physical disabilities recognized by the Veterans’ Administration would have their retired pay “offset” or reduced dollar-for-dollar by the amount of their VA compensation.

Proponents for the concurrent receipt of both military retired pay and VA disability compensation have argued that these pays were for discrete and different purposes: military retired pay is postservice compensation for services rendered while VA compensation recognizes physical or mental disability incurred while in the service. Opponents have maintained that concurrent receipt is expensive, not supported by precedent and could result in similar offsets between other federal programs.

Legislative activity on the issue of concurrent receipt began in the late 1980s and culminated in the provision for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) in the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for FY2003 (P.L. 107-314). Successive legislation since then has extended concurrent receipt to additional eligible populations and further refined and clarified the program. However, some potential beneficiaries continue to remain excluded from participation. There are two common criteria that define eligibility for Concurrent Receipt: (1) all recipients must be military retirees and (2) they must also be eligible for VA disability compensation. There are two separate and distinct components that are commonly referred to as the Concurrent Receipt program: (1) Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP) and (2) Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC). A retiree cannot receive both CRSC and CRDP benefits. The retiree must choose whichever is most financially advantageous to him or her and may move back and forth between either benefit during an annual “open season”.

This report addresses the two primary components of the concurrent receipt program: Combat- Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP). It reviews the possible legislative expansion of the program to additional populations and provide several potential options for Congress to consider.

Concurrent receipt continues to be one of the most misunderstood and controversial military retirement issues and one that remains the object of intense public and congressional interest.